FBI chief says CBP faces ‘one hell of a challenge’ with national security threats on southern border

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FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers Wednesday that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) faces a “huge challenge” due to national security threats on the southern border.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, asked Wray during a Senate hearing about the FBI’s assessment “of our national security threats along our border, the southern border in particular” and whether he could tell more about the number of known or suspected terrorists encountered coming from Mexico.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)
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FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

Wray told Moran that border security is a “major challenge” and that “any porous entry point is a potential vulnerability that bad actors of all kinds, including national security threats, may seek to exploit. “.

He said he visited FBI field offices that had border crossings in their areas of responsibility and met with Customs and Border Protection officials.

“People from CBP showed me around so I could see firsthand what they’re dealing with. And they have a hell of a challenge ahead,” he said. “And we, through our joint terrorism task forces in particular, are working very closely with our DHS partners to try to bring the counterterrorism dimension to the threat.”

He said he couldn’t say more in a public hearing, but added that “you’re certainly right to focus on that as a matter of concern.”

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According to CBP, there have been 157 encounters with people on the Terrorism Screening Database (TSDB) at U.S. borders so far in fiscal year 2022 between ports of entry and 35 encounters between ports. of entry.

Fox News reported this week that a suspected terrorist was released in the United States in April and was apprehended only two weeks after being reported by the FBI.

The suspected terrorist, Isnardo Garcia-Amado, 35, was released into the United States by Border Patrol agents on April 18 near Yuma, Arizona, and given a GPS tracking device as an alternative to detention, according to a memo from a federal source obtained. by Fox News.

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Garcia-Amado, a Colombian citizen, was subsequently flagged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorism Testing Center on April 21, which determined he was compatible on the terror watch list.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday that it has arrested an Iraqi national for an alleged conspiracy to help four Iraqi nationals enter the United States across the southern border to help kill former President George W. Bush.

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